Chamber Collects Data Regarding Transient Disturbances

In response to the recent spike in issues and disturbances arising from the transient population impacting local business and tourism, the Chamber will be initiating a response and collecting data from the community. The Chamber will be acting as the repository for testimonials, complaints, stories, incidents and photos from properties, businesses and residents in an effort to organize and accumulate a strong database to provide to the City and County officials when speaking to the impacts of these issues on the business community and tourism efforts. As a result, we hope providing this strong core database provided by both the business community and residents will elicit a sense of urgency to address this issue from community leaders.

If you have witnessed or experienced any interactions or know somebody that has, please feel free to send a record of your encounter to Cheyanne Brooks, Tourism and Communications Manager by emailing

Roadmap to Recovery Update – Addressing Uncertainty

Everyone is concerned about the rise in COVID cases throughout our community and we are left debating whether there will be further tightening of restrictions or even another shut down. The Chamber is adamant about advocating that any new restrictions be based on sound science and information we have gathered through the Pandemic experience since March. We have all learned that there are five things are extremely effective in stopping the spread: proper distancing, mask-wearing, plexiglass, sanitizing and ventilation. Through our Roadmap to Recovery initiative, the Chamber has conducted 12 focus groups with over 163 Chamber business members, and it is clear these businesses are operating safely. The hotel, restaurant and retail industry locally has proven over the past 6 months that they can safely operate and will continue to do so with proper safety measures. If restaurants and hotels are forced to shut down, not only will we lose small businesses, but we will force people to go underground and gather with their family and friends where we know the highest risk of community spread resides.

The Chamber will continue to work with our community leaders and our businesses to collaboratively protect our health and safety as well as our livelihoods.

Goleta Leaders Address State of the City Amid COVID-19 and Ever-Changing Business Climate

Click here to view the Goleta State of the City 

With all of the challenges that have come with the rapid outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, local leaders gathered to give an update on the ever-changing business climate at Friday’s Goleta State of the City address.

“It’s been an unbelievably challenging year,” Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, said in introducing the Zoomwebcast. “No one could have predicted the upheaval in our lives, our businesses and our communities.”

While the crisis has been tough on employees, organizations and businesses, there is a silver lining in the way that businesses have been able to adapt and find opportunities amid the adversity, according to Dave Powers, president and CEO of Deckers Brands.

“For us, challenges present opportunities to adapt, to innovate and to grow stronger together,” he said. “We have really noticed that being of service to others is a great way to find a sense of higher purpose and combat the feelings of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.”

Deckers recently held its first-ever Active Kindness Event, a global event that gave employees a week to actively serve their communities. The event culminated in 2,000 volunteer hours across the globe and supported more than 200 charities in one week, Powers said.

Throughout the contagion, Deckers has had to focus on what matters most to the business, and it came closer together as a global organization because of it, Powers said. With a record second quarter of the fiscal year, Deckers shifted its marketing investments to drive e-commerce and better connect with consumers.

Acknowledging that small businesses in Santa Barbara County and Goleta are the “lifeline of the community,” Deckers worked with the Santa Barbara Foundation to create the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund. The effort has raised and donated up to $1 million to local small businesses, 19 of which are in Goleta, according to Powers.

Shopping centers in Goleta are anchored with businesses that are deemed essential, and the city relies on those centers for its diverse tenant mix and service offerings, said Mark Ingalls, property manager at Camino Real Marketplace, at 7004 Marketplace Drive.

As Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March stay-at-home order sent shock waves through the economy, few retail sectors were deemed essential. The threats of supply chain disruption in essential consumer products led to panic-buying that caused tenants such as Costco and Home Depot to post double-digit increases in sales for the 2020 second quarter, according to Ingalls.

However, almost all other retail categories in the second quarter reported decreases of 75 percent to 100 percent in sales for the same period.

“Information was coming in waves,” Ingalls said. “Mixed messages and a lack of clear information made it difficult for businesses to pivot, not knowing if the changes and modifications they would need to make would be temporary or longer-lasting.”

Camino Real Marketplace assisted its restaurant tenants in obtaining Paycheck Protection Program loans under the CARES Act and worked individually with each on rent deferrals and payment schedules, and encouraged them to take whatever measures needed to remain open for business.

By looking at every possible way to reduce operational costs to reflect any decreases in the volume of the shopping center, Ingalls reported that the company was able to keep 100 percent of its staff on payroll and at work.

Sales numbers started creeping back up in the third quarter as consumers gained the confidence to shop and dine again safely, according to Ingalls.

“With the recent spike of COVID cases in Santa Barbara County, more uncertainty is back,” he said. “However, we feel we are better prepared to meet the challenge of sudden changes, new restrictions and mandates.”

Lauren Hanson, board president of the Goleta Water District, shared how the district had to adjust its daily business in the midst of the pandemic. She said board colleagues are fortunate to work with a dedicated and capable group to continue to provide a safe and reliable water supply to the residents of the Goleta Valley.

There has been careful operation and maintenance of water systems to maintain the level of service the community expects, Hanson said, and critical investments and treatment in delivery systems remain ongoing.

Aerie DeJong, vice president of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, at 351 S. Patterson Ave., shared plans to relocate the entire Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, at 2415 De la Vina St. in Santa Barbara, to the Goleta campus by the end of 2023.

“The new rehabilitation hospital will offer state-of-the-art technology to accompany highly trained and compassionate staff,” he said.

The new hospital will include an entirely new aquatic center, an aesthetic redesign to the main lobby to accommodate the increase of traffic, a restorative therapeutic garden, and indoor and outdoor gathering and treatment spaces, according to DeJong.

Dr. Robin Malone, chief of staff at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, urged patients to seek prompt care for all medical emergencies and reminded the audience that it is safe to do so. Cottage has implemented new protocols and holds sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of patients, she said.

As the county is preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases, Cottage Health hospitals and clinics continue to provide safe care to the community, said Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease specialist at Cottage Health.

“What we’re facing now is perhaps of greater magnitude,” she said, “but we’re going into it better armed than ever before.”

The Goleta State of the City presentation was the third in a four-part series coordinated by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber, which was created over the summer — in large part because of the COVID-19 crisis — with the merger of the Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria Valley chambers of commerce. The new chamber, representing 1,100 members, is the largest business organization on the South Coast.

The Carpinteria State of the City was held in September, followed by Santa Barbara in October, with the State of Santa Barbara County scheduled for Dec. 11.

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce Announces Plan to Reinvigorate Economy

An initiative led by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, and its Economic Development Committee, is underway to support long term economic vitality, job growth, and tourism in the region. The mission of this integrated effort is to take an action-oriented approach to accelerating economic recovery, with the initial focus on the region’s downtown core.


Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO, Kristen Miller says, “This is a critical initiative. As a newly merged business organization, we have a collective need to reimagine how our economy can thrive.”


The economic development committee was formed as one of the first steps following the merger of the three former chambers.  It is made up of 12 business leaders who are an integral part of their communities, from Goleta to Carpinteria.  Committee chair, Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox Communication shares, “Our committee members represent a diverse selection of industries and are leaders who understand how to drive economic growth. Our goal is to develop a downtown core that generates a powerful economy that ultimately extends throughout the community.”


Committee member and Montecito Bank and Trust Chairman and CEO, Janet Garufis, continues, “Our community’s residents and guests have diverse needs and interests and we want to support the development of businesses that can both respond to this demand and help downtown Santa Barbara thrive.”


The committee has approved a business recruitment and retention plan developed by local Keith Higbee of Strategic Growth & Ventures and small business advocate Amy Cooper, Owner of Plum Goods, that is now underway. Based on the wealth of existing studies and recommendations, new research and metrics and ongoing stakeholder engagement, the SBEDP will aim to recruit a diverse mix of entities to repopulate downtown Santa Barbara’s core business district. This effort will include addressing business retention and support for our current small business community.


This initiative is a bridge between private and public entities and independent of any one interest. Gaining insight from city planners and officials, commercial realtors, business owners and leaders, developers, nonprofit partners, and more, is the key to developing an actionable plan to successfully drive thoughtful economic development in the downtown core.


Francois De John, a founding partner at Hayes Commercial Group also sits on the committee. He shares the value of this initiative. “This is a great opportunity to build a successful partnership between commercial realtors and a focused group of business and community leaders. Our industry always welcomes creative ways to identify strategic businesses that can become a long term part of State Street, and beyond.”


A key to this plan’s success is the alignment in the vision of State Street’s future and how to create a thriving district that will ultimately extend beyond the confines of State Street and serve the entire region.


An informational survey will soon be conducted to gain input from the community and results will be shared in the coming weeks.  This initial venture is funded by the Chamber, with additional partners including City of Santa Barbara, Visit Santa Barbara, and Better Together Fund. More partners will be identified as funding is secured.

Insights from Chamber’s Roadmap to Recovery

Moving from the red tier back to the purple tier, amid swift changes to Governor Newsom’s color-coded policy, came as a shock Monday morning. This new development is another reminder that we are operating in a very fluid environment. While changes may happen rapidly, our team will continue to stay on top of the latest developments. We have a program in place that is set up to respond to these dynamic shifts while focusing on specific economic sectors. Roadmap to Recovery looks at 11 industry sectors to provide specific guidance and resources, with the initial rollout focusing on a 90-day strategy. Our leadership team, in partnership with committee and board members, are understanding what the latest tier requirements mean for each sector and will be sharing this information in the coming days. For now, we have provided the following initial insight.


Agri-Business – Due to missing a number of holiday sales our agri-businesses are looking to find ways to make up missed revenue in the next ninety days and to have more business generation in time for Valentine’s Day. This is also exacerbated by the limiting of gatherings and essentially the postponement of large events including weddings, banquets, and corporate


Arts/Culture – This sector has been missed altogether in the guidance provided by the state for safe reopening. Due to this oversight many entertainers, performing arts groups, theatres and concert halls have great uncertainty for when modified business can resume.


Business Services – Business services have uncertainty around the opportunity to hire back employees who were previously laid off in the next ninety days.


Childcare – There is a great level of uncertainty for childcare providers as it is still unknown whether the schools may or may not be open and that businesses may or may not be open. This also is influenced by the trends impacting the workforce due to these unknown variables.


Education – Our education system is experiencing the challenge of addressing unknown budgets from the State in the coming months.


Lodging/Hospitality – Our lodging partners pride themselves on providing a safe travel experience. To date we haven’t had a single case trace back to a hotel in Santa Barbara County. With this news we continue to welcome travelers who deem themselves healthy to travel.


Mental Health/Health Care – Our mental health care professionals and healthcare providers are concerned that with remote working situations, employers are not as easily able to read and address personal matters and coping skills. The health care system also has expressed concern of the increasing need of mental health services in the coming months due to impacts from the pandemic.


Non-Profits – Many non-profits are concerned about charitable contributions and generous giving as we approach the end of the year to meet the fundraising needs of their organizations.


Retail – Retailers usually look at the end of the year as a pivotal moment in their business models who are reliant and anticipate higher revenue generation during holiday months.


Technology/Manufacturing – Our large employers in the biomedical, technology, software, and manufacturing industries have made swift adaptations to keep their employees working, their products moving, and their manufacturing lines open under modified conditions. They are cautiously optimistic for steady incremental growth over the next ninety days and provide a much-needed stability in the local economy and jobs.


Wineries and Breweries – This industry has likely seen the most change in the last eight months and credits unprecedented collaboration between business and government agencies to assist in their adaptation. However, with limited capacity and the winter months ahead, their ninety-day challenge is to make enough revenue to survive.

Public Policy Update

In October the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee heard from Sara Dearman, the Government and Public Affairs Advisor for Chevron’s West Coast Decommissioning (WCD) Program. Ms. Dearman gave an overview of the background of the project and presented on the timeline and scope of work to address the decommissioning process of these off shore platforms as well as the on shore facilities removal and soil restoration procedures.

Click here for the presentation…

Roadmap to Recovery Update

The Chamber is in the midst of robust conversations for our Roadmap to Recovery and we are learning so much! We are thankful for our 70+ members who have participated in our Agribusiness, Arts & Culture, Education, Lodging/Hospitality/Tourism, Childcare, Business Services, and Manufacturing/Tech industry sector focus groups.

We are gathering crucial details about their adaptations, recovery efforts, financial obstacles, and biggest challenges during this unprecedented period. Our charge is to map a course for recovery, based on lofty efforts over the next 6-12-18 months ahead, and establish realistic goals for business openings, tourism growth, manufacturing output, customer numbers, financial improvements, and bringing back our workforce. The Chamber’s goal is to provide a business-community focused plan, featuring tactics and milestones that will help lead us out of the COVID crisis.

We began with our Roadmap to Recovery Chamber Task Force virtual meeting followed by our Industry Champion Strategic Planning virtual meetings earlier this month and are now gathering information from our Member Industry Sectors: Agribusiness, Arts/Culture, Childcare/Education, Healthcare/Mental Health, Lodging/Hospitality/Tourism, Manufacturing/Technology, Non-Profits/Philanthropy, Restaurants/Wineries/Breweries, and Retail.

For more information or wish to participate, please contact or call 805.967.2500 Ext. 106

Santa Barbara State of the City Highlights Opportunities and Challenges for City

Click here to watch the 2020 Santa Barbara State of the City

Santa Barbara will recover from the COVID-19 public health crisis “better, stronger and united,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said during Friday’s State of the City address via Zoom.

“We will overcome these challenges because Santa Barbara is resilient,” she said at the virtual event, sponsored by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce. “This is a city of determined and hardworking people, and we have recovered from past disasters.”

Speaking at a podium outside against the backdrop of the Santa Barbara City CollegeWest Campus lawn, Murillo said the pandemic and its impacts that followed are still playing out, and it will take time to fully recover.

“The council’s posture will remain legislatively vigilant,” she said. “We are focused on preparing for the long road to full recovery, a new investment, by initiating efforts to reduce red tape and streamline land development permitting in the city.”

It is about eight months into the pandemic. Murillo touted Santa Barbara’s pandemic response and the partnerships with local organizations to assist those most affected by COVID-19.

She said Santa Barbara provided additional funding for social services throughout a partnership with United Way of Santa Barbara County and entered into new partnerships with the Santa Barbara Foundation to offer small-business grants.

“For those businesses that have had to close or those that are struggling to reopen and recover,” Murillo said, “my heart goes out to each and every one of you. We will continue to keep our resident and business needs in focus.”

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Murillo said she called on Santa Barbara’s business community to gather ideas and solutions through a business advisory task force in response to the economic impact of Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s stay-at-home order as well as school closures and nonessential business closures. The task force, made up of 20 business members, participated weekly for three months.

“Those initial solutions were the foundation to our climb back,” Murillo said during her 15-minute address.

A recommendation led to the Santa Barbara City Council’s authorization to close lower State Street to cars to allow restaurants to expand their dining outdoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The city decided in May to close parts of downtown State Street, and it created a “new public space in the center of downtown to interact with neighbors and enjoy our new village center,” she said.

Homelessness is a constant challenge in Santa Barbara, Murillo said, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue by limiting the city’s ability to clear homeless encampments under public health order.

“The city is focused on making an impact with multiple new initiatives to address this longstanding problem,” Murillo said about homelessness.

A wide range of solutions are required to tackle the varying needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, she said.

The Santa Barbara Connect Home program focuses on the needs of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Murillo shouted out the newly established partnership among the city, Cottage Health, the Santa Barbara Police Department, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and PATH Santa Barbara.

Other efforts focus on preventing vulnerable residents from becoming homeless.

Santa Barbara received federal funding to address the pandemic through the community development block grant program, according to Murillo. Funds were provided to offer three months of rental assistance to at-risk households, she said.

Murillo said the city helped establish a new Community Food Collaborative, a multisector partnership. The program aimed to address hunger among unsheltered populations in Santa Barbara in response to COVID-19 while also supporting small food businesses, according to the Community Food Collaborative.

Santa Barbara’s Average Unit-size Density Incentive program, known as AUD, had produced more than 430 new housing units in the past seven years, with 302 units approved “that can be constructed in the near future,” she said. “This level of housing production hasn’t occurred since the 1970s.”

The city is updating its accessory dwelling unit ordinance to align with California law. Santa Barbara permitted 350 accessory dwelling units, colloquially known as granny flats, since 2017, Murillo said.

“Applications continue to come in at a steady pace,” she said.

Murillo said Santa Barbara completed 27 capital improvement projects in the past year, with a total value of $150 million. There are 18 capital improvement projects in construction and 30 in design, Murillo said.

“These investments will improve access and connections to the waterfront, and our downtown,” she said.

The Santa Barbara Library‘s plaza on Anapamu Street will serve as the central hub for the city’s arts district, and its revitalization coincides with the new vision for the downtown area, Murillo said. The project calls for improving the library’s outdoor space to accommodate events and programming.

“The library continued its excellent work engaging, educating and enhancing our community,” Murillo said.

Santa Barbara set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035, Murillo said. The city is working on several initiatives to help achieve this goal, including the community choice energy program.

The mayor used her prepared remarks for her third annual State of the City address to call attention to racial injustice and social inequity, and how deaths of black citizens involving law enforcement officers refocused the national and local conversation. She spoke of George Floyd, who died in police custody, in Minneapolis in May.

“This death sparked a national awakening of the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for racial justice,” Murillo said, mentioning Healing Justice Santa Barbara and organizations that are partnering with Santa Barbara on what the city can do to address issues of systemic racism and social inequity.

The Santa Barbara City Council is establishing the city’s Community Formation Commission to advise on the creation of a civilian police review system for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

“The city is listening and responding,” Murillo said. “We are committed to police operations that are responsive to our community and free of brutality and misconduct.”

Santa Barbara has “one of the finest police chiefs in the state, Lori Luhnow, and dedicated professional men and women in the department who are committed to serving our residents with transparency and community engagement,” Murillo said.

Luhnow, the first woman chief of the Santa Barbara Police Department, began her position in July 2016.

Murillo also acknowledged the Santa Barbara City Council’s action to rename a street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. Indio Muerto, which means dead Indian in Spanish, is being changed to Hutash Street, which means Earth mother.

“The change will remove a hurtful public street name from our city,” she said.

Local Economy and Santa Barbara’s Financial Outlook

City Administrator Paul Casey said local economic effects of the pandemic were “severe.” He provided an update on the local economy and Santa Barbara’s financial outlook.

Santa Barbara received “very little federal assistance,” he said. The Santa Barbara Airport got about $9.5 million in relief funding, and the state provided a little more than $1 million in CARES Actassistance that covered some public safety expenses.

Casey said the city received about $500,000 in community development block grant funds for human service purposes.

“At this point, we are not expecting or planning for additional federal assistance,” he said, adding that state and local governments need federal assistance “to get us through these times.”

Casey said $6.7 million in the city’s reserve funds were used to cover the initial deficit in fiscal year 2020, and the city expects to use a “more modest amount of reserves to see us through the fiscal year 2021.”

“What is unique about this budget event considered to others is every category of city revenues has been impacted and stressed,” he said.

Sales tax and bed tax are the two largest revenue sources affected by Santa Barbara’s budget. The bed tax revenues were 33 percent lower than August 2019. The local tourist industry took a hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A dramatic drop, but we are seeing steady growth month over month in our bed tax revenues,” he said. “So far, it’s right in line with our budget projections for this fiscal year.”

The latest sales tax information from the state will be available in November.

The pandemic forced Santa Barbara to take dramatic actions to address the fiscal impacts to the city’s operating budget, Casey said.

The city laid off about 400 part-time or hourly employees. These were seasonal or hourly workers who supported after-school activities, summer camps, parking kiosks and “other similar activities that were fully shut down, so we had no work to offer,” Casey said. “As those services are coming back, we are rehiring those staff.”

A citywide hiring freeze went into effect, some capital improvement projects were put on hold and city departments began to cut their budgets in response to the COVID-19 situation, Casey said.

“These immediate and decisive actions saved the city’s general fund millions of dollars,” he said.

Casey said that “establishing a budget in the middle of the onset of the pandemic was one of the most challenging budget processes I’ve experienced in 30 years.”

In closing, Jason Harris, Santa Barbara’s economic development manager, addressed the city’s economic development initiatives.

Harris said Santa Barbara quickly became a statewide leader “as we were one of the earliest and most aggressive jurisdictions” to support outdoor operations at businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The revamped State Street downtown promenade made the area more pedestrian-friendly and features the installation of parklets for expanded outside service.

The actions “saved countless businesses from closing and hundreds of jobs from being lost,” Harris said.

More upgrades along downtown State Street are in the pipeline, including lighting and roadway enhancements to provide better direction for cyclists.

“These are interim steps,” Harris said. “The city has initiated a visioning effort for the future of State Street.”

Santa Barbara is the second of the four-part State of the City series hosted by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce. The leading business-support organization held the State of Carpinteria in September, and it will continue the event series by hosting the State of Goleta in November and the State of Santa Barbara County in December.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Chambers United to Create Tri-County Chamber Alliance

The Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties recently voted to create a new Tri-County Chamber Alliance. The newly formed Alliance would will include thirteen Chambers of Commerce throughout Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties effective January 1, 2021. The Santa Barbara Southcoast Chamber has taken an active lead in forming a stronger Alliance representing the three neighboring counties.

The mission of the Tri-County Alliance is to foster collaboration among the region’s chambers of commerce and to advocate for policies that promote a friendlier business climate.

The Tri-County Alliance will act as a public policy advocacy group and take action on appropriate regional, state and federal legislation that impacts the business and economic climates. Issues will include Economic Development, Infrastructure, Workplace Regulations, Taxes and Fees on Business, Workplace Development, and Housing and be discussed at the monthly meetings.

The Alliance will continue to contract with Fred Main of Clear Advocacy, LLC for researching and summarizing issues, tracking and recording voting records of elected officials, and facilitating, educating, and coordinating local business advocacy efforts in Sacramento and Washington D.C. and discussing at the monthly meetings.


Chamber Jr. Carpinteria Scholarship Fund of Carpinteria Update

The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, from Goleta to Carpinteria is happy to announce that the Jr. Carpinterian Scholarship applications will be available in January 2021.

The Chamber will continue to honor the Carpinterian of The Year, Jr. Carpinterian of the Year, two Jr. Carpinterian Scholarship Finalists, two Teachers of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Merit Awards honoring volunteers from 20 local non-profit organizations.

The Jr. Carpinterian Scholarships are available to any graduating senior who is a resident of the Carpinteria Valley.

The Jr. Carpinterian Scholarship’s are planned to be awarded in the Spring 2021. The Chamber will once again offer three Scholarships to well deserving graduating seniors. The Jr. Carpinterian of the Year (Jr. COY) will receive a $4,000 Scholarship and two finalists will each receive a $1,500 Scholarship. Two Teachers of the Year will also be awarded Scholarship funds for supplies and to enhance their classrooms.

For more information or to contribute to the Junior Carpinterian Scholarship Fund, please contact or call 805.967/2500 Ext. 206.